If You Think That I Don't Love You, You're Just Wrong, That Don't Matter Now Anyway, I Couldn't Bear To See You Up There, With A White Dress On
As I sat by the gate at LAX, waiting for my flight to board, I thought I was going to be sick. There was a feeling of nausea mixed with fear in the bottom of my stomach that I had never felt before. I'm sure to the passerbys I must have looked a sight. Hunched over, head down--they must have thought I was a first-time flyer anticipating the dwindling moments. I'm surprised nobody came by to offer my consolation, letting me know that I was going to make it through my flight fine. At least then I wouldn't have been alone in the airport. However, the truth was that it wasn't my first flight nor my second. While I was nervous about the flight as I always am whenever I'm on a plane that is going to be in the air for more than thirty minutes, that wasn't the reason I was experiencing bouts of absolute wretchedness. The truth was that there was no easy fix, no pills I could take for what I had.
There is no cure for the choking mist of love.
I had been dreading this trip the whole month leading up to my flight. I couldn't tell her that, though. What kind of friend would I be to say that to her? It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life and I was afraid that I was going to ruin it with my negative attitude as I have a penchant for doing just that. But this wasn't going to be the usual case of me feeling out of place or being bored; this was going to be a case of me actually being heartsick. I couldn't explain how I felt any more succinctly than that. I felt like my heart was dissolving inside my chest, eating away through my skin, the closer I came to getting on that plane. All I could think of was if I felt like this at the airport, a full two weeks before she actually got married, how was I going to handle spending the next few days being around her? I knew I wouldn't be able to abide having her talk about him every second of every day I spent with her, beam about how happy she was going to be, or tell me how glad she was that I was able to come. I didn't want to meet the lucky bastard and I definitely did not want to gain the confirmation that all her dreams were going to be coming true without me.
That's why I wanted to throw up. All of it was moving so quickly. One second it seemed we had been discussing how we were so perfect for one another and the next she had fell in love with somebody that wasn't me. I know it's very petty of me, but I couldn't help but take it to heart that something precious was being taken from me, something that I never even thought it was conceivable I could lose.
I sat in the airport going over my options.
I could be the bastard and just not go. I could chicken out and give her some excuse that I was feeling well. She would have never bought that, though. She wasn't anything if not perceptive. She'd want to know what was the matter and I'd have to eventually tell her that I just couldn't see her go through with it.
Or I could just get on the plane, land with a smile on my face, and then let it slowly dwindle away as I celebrated with her over the next few weeks. I could do that until I felt myself completely die inside. I could pretend that it didn't bother me in the least and try to be happy for her. That's what was expected of me. That's what I was supposed to do. That's what she wanted from me.
But all I wanted was her.
All I could think about was that time we parked on that hill and we talked the sun up from its hiding place. She made promises. I made promises. It's funny how we both were so sure everything was going to go smoothly from that point on.
"You're everything I'm looking for," she had said.
"I feel the same. It's like--I don't know--saying it aloud to you makes it feel real, like I'm putting my handprints in cement for you."
"It's about time you came around. It's what I've always said, these were never just words for me. I care about you fiercely."
"I needed to do my best to stay away from you, but you talked me into it."
And then we just stayed up on that hill, sharing that moment of revelation for the few hours we had before her parents would start to worry. I thought there was a deal sealed that day, one that would never be broken as long as the two of us should live. I thought the way she felt about would never change. Fuck, I thought the way I felt about her would never change. But that wasn't true. It wasn't so much that I stopped caring about her as much as I stopped remembering just how much I did. It's sad to say that I took it for granted the two of us would just end up together and I never took the proper steps to get the ball rolling. It was like she was the army and I'd already signed off on my enlistment papers when the truth was that I should have taken it as the first of many steps to ensuring the future I wanted was the one I would end up with. That should have kicked my butt into gear. It reminded me of that scene in Swingers where Lorraine tells Mikey that she'll come him sometime after they meet. He tells her then and there that that wasn't good enough, that he wanted to make plans with her. That should have been have me. I shouldn't have been like "yeah, I've got her locked up." I should have started making plans and never stopped until it was she and I walking down that aisle.
The thing about not having definite plans that I've always been perturbed by is the fact that, without definite plans, distractions always seem to creep up. It's one thing to be able to tell someone that you couldn't go out with them because you already had a girlfriend you were saving up to move out with. It's another thing to say that you couldn't go out with someone because you were kind of seeing somebody. Even I felt foolish that we hadn't defined exactly what was going to happen from that point forward. We left it to fate to iron out the kinks and ended up without a goal in sight. I got cocky that a future with her forever was my destiny, when all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other to get us there. That way, when the distractions came, like other boyfriends and girlfriends, like school, like family and friends, we could have made it through somehow, lending each other strength.
My not appreciating what I could have had was my worst mistake and it cost me her.
I started seeing someone else, assuring her that it was only a temporary relationship. I even convinced her that it would be good for us because that way I could get it out of my system. I told her that I would never be tempted by anyone else if I had a semi-serious relationship with someone else. She didn't believe me, at first, but the nagging sense she and I were inevitable pushed aside any doubts either one of us may have had. I seriously went into that relationship that I would be in and out within the year. That one year turned into six years--six years of telling her that it wasn't going to last, then I'm pretty sure it wasn't going to last, then I'm not so sure anymore. Until finally I called her up one night, ironically inviting her to come out to see me in California, to celebrate the fact I was going to ask the "temporary" girl to marry me. The sadness in her voice reached a crescendo that night. I knew it was coming. Every step I got closer with the temp, the more the one I really wanted must have felt like I was pushing her away. I didn't care at that point was the bitter aspect of what developed. In my mind I was trading up. I thought the promises I made with her were spoken in a moment of youthful infatuation. I thought what I was getting myself into was the "real" thing. I thought three years of seeing somebody in person trumped knowing someone inside and out for eight years. I thought I had made the right choice.
And then, when that relationship tanked, it was my turn to discover she had moved on without me. The only difference was the two of them took actual steps to getting to that happily ever after that was supposed to be mine. From first date to marriage in less than 2 1/2 years. I told her it was some kind of land-speed record. I told her that I was happy for her. I told her that I'd taken my swing and struck out, but what I really wanted to tell her was that I desperately wanted another crack at her.
I was too late.
That's how I found myself in that airport awaiting the nightmare of watching my best friend in whole wide world marrying someone else. That's how I had worked myself up into the state I was in, on the verge of throwing up all over the airport. Yet nauseousness and vomit was the least of my worries. What concerned me the most was the idea that I would actually ruin her wedding. I pictured myself standing up in the middle of the ceremony and announcing to the wedding party that I objected to the wedding. I wanted that Hollywood ending where she would realize that she was supposed to end up with me and ditch her groom at the altar. I wanted that and I knew if I got on the plane that there was a good chance that that would be exactly what I would do. The only difference would be that she would be mortified in embarrassment and I really would lose her forever. That was my rationale. I knew I would never be capable of standing idly by and watching her go.
I went into the bathroom with my bags not truly believing I was contemplating giving up the rare opportunity to go and see her one more time. I looked in the mirror after throwing up in the toilet and saw the kind of person I'd become. I saw I was the kind of person that put his own well-being before that of those he considered closest to him. I felt kind of ashamed for myself. This was always the pattern with me. Any time I got the least bit uncomfortable I started to come up with a new way to extricate myself from the situation. Instead of just dealing with my fears or insecurities, instead of facing my jealousy and envy head-on, I was contemplating setting it aside for another time. I just couldn't deal.
On one hand she would be very upset that I didn't show up for the wedding. On the other hand I would never see her again. I had no choice really. It was either disappoint my best friend horribly or lose her entirely.
I walked out of the bathroom, playing around with the quarter in my pocket. I gave a moment's thought to flipping for it--heads I go, tails I stay. Then I realized that would be even too callous for me to do. The least I could do if I was going to take the coward's way out would be to own up to making the decision. She deserved that much consideration. I wouldn't excuse away the fact that the friend that had known her for half her life wasn't going to be at her wedding. I wasn't going to tell her many years down the line that the reason I didn't go was the fact that the coin had landed on the wrong side. I wanted to be able to tell her, when it came time for confessions, that I'd been the big boy and thought of this crappy idea myself.
Yes, it was selfish in a way. It was definitely immature of me. The thought that I couldn't keep my thoughts to myself for two weeks spoke little of my self-control. But I truly thought I was doing because I loved her so much. I loved her enough to stay away.
I picked up my cel phone, dialed her number, and started walking back to the parking lot.
"I've got bad news, my Breannie..."